On Red Sox's plate: new deal for Lester

On Red Sox's plate: new deal for Lester
November 7, 2013, 9:15 am
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Where would the Red Sox have been in the postseason without Jon Lester? He went 4-1 in five starts, posting a 1.56 ERA. But this time last year, Boston was listening to trade overtures for him.

The Royals offered outfielder Wil Myers and wanted Lester as the key part of the package in exchange. It seems like a no-brainer now not to have made the deal, but last fall, Lester was coming off his most discouraging major-league season, having gone 9-14 with a 4.82 ERA in 2012. Lester bounced back this year, not only with his outstanding postseason, but also with a 15-8 record and 3.75 ERA in the regular season.

Myers ended up being dealt to the Rays for James Shields and hit .293 with a .353 on-base percentage, 13 homers and 53 RBIs in about half a season. Myers is a finalist for American League Rookie of the Year, being announced on Monday.

This year, Lester also turned in another 200-inning season, the fifth out of his six as a full-time big leaguer. An accomplished starter who eats innings — what’s not to like?

“He’s the leader of our pitching staff, our ace,” second baseman Dustin Pedroia said last week, as reported by the Boston Herald. “The way he threw the ball, especially late in the season, but all year, he was a force for us. If we had a losing streak, he stopped it. He was great all year.”

The Red Sox have picked up Lester’s $13 million option for next year, but now it’s time to start talking new deal. The Herald reported that the club has yet to start discussions with Lester, who turns 30 in January, about a new contract.

“To be back for another year is awesome,” Lester said. “Hopefully, that’s not the only one, and we can be here for a long time. We’ll worry about that when the time comes.”

But how much and for how long? Time and again, long-term contracts for pitchers have turned out to be bad investments. The Herald mentions a range between the five-year, $85 million deal the Angels worked out with Jered Weaver and the six-year, $144 million for Cole Hamels with the Phillies.

There’s a lot of room to maneuver in there. But you can bet the Red Sox won’t be listening to any more trade offers.